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Our group of researchers (~15 people) came to an agreement that it would be a good idea to have a database of journal articles that are worth sharing. Our department is becoming more and more focused on one direction, so it would save a lot of time for us to simply check what others have already read and suggested. In addition, the plan would also be to write a short summary (by the person who has read it) why this paper has been read and what does it offer (sometimes abstract is not enough). The questions I have are:

  1. Is there available tool that would allow us to do so easily?

  2. All of us have access to most of the non-open access journals, but is it okay if the papers are shared (in *.pdf) between our group, especially if the database is in the cloud?

  3. Do you have a similar system in your research group? If no, how do you share 'worth reading' articles?

So far, we were thinking to use Dropbox, OneDrive or other service to store this information and provide access to each of us, but we are not sure if it is safe and how to make it efficient.

Please let me know your opinions about this idea and what do you use yourselves.

  • Have you thought of using a citation manager? Zotero allows for shared databases, and includes such features as searching content, tagging, etc. Slack might be another useful tool, paired with Google Drive. You can share papers to specific people (or groups) and informally chat about content. All history and shared files are searchable by the group. – LShaver Dec 14 '16 at 23:06
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I'm all for collaboration and sharing, but please be aware that you might be breaching specific laws in your country and you may be inadvertently dragging the lab (unit, group, Department) into a complicated situation.

I've found this site helpful: http://www.howcanishareit.com/. It provides advice about sharing permissions and options based on DOI.

To answer your question, my group uses EndNote Web for this, mainly because the university has a corporate subscription to the software. One of the post-grads curates the database and undergraduate students are assigned to summarising the paper, with comments provided by one PhD, one post-doc or one academic staff member. We circulate a condensed summary every week. It took a while to set up, but it now works rather smoothly.

Good luck.

PS. I just remembered that one of the post-docs presented Mendeley as an alternative, too. If we hadn't already had access to EndNote through the institutional subscription, we thought that it was a great system.

  • I do not see why privately compiling a bunch of papers to which members of the group have access anyway would be a "complicated situation." If the publishing companies found out (why would they, by the way), it would be shocking if their reaction was not "We're glad you're making use of the content that you paid for." – Pete L. Clark Dec 15 '16 at 0:36
  • There was a whistleblower case in another Department that exposed the practices of that Department to scrutiny by the university's lawyers. I'm just relating to the group what the message was to Department heads. As I mentioned, this is specific to the laws in my country. – user65587 Dec 15 '16 at 0:47
  • And this whistleblowing involved sharing papers that everyone had paid access to?!? – Pete L. Clark Dec 15 '16 at 1:08
  • No. The allegations were much more serious, but immaterial to this question. However, as I said, it led to the opening up of practices in the group. The university lawyers, backed by the Copyright Officer from the Library wrote to department heads about this aspect. I'm not a lawyer and certainly don't live in your country. I suggest that you clarify it with experts in your own institute if you don't understand the issues, even if it's only to ask if the issues are relevant to you. – user65587 Dec 15 '16 at 1:33

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